Child marriage rife in Bongo District

BY: Vincent Amenuveve
The Chief of Feo, Naaba Anyenaba Azaare, addressing the gathering at the community durbar at Feo
The Chief of Feo, Naaba Anyenaba Azaare, addressing the gathering at the community durbar at Feo

Eighten girls dropped out from the Feo Basic School B in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region last term.

The situation has been attributed to the inability of state agencies, parents and traditional authorities to speed up processes intended to curtail the occurrence of child marriages in the country.

Additionally, these institutions hardly follow up on reported cases of child marriages thereby enabling perpetrators of the act to take away the girls to the southern part of the country which ends their education.

The Senior Programme Officer of ActionAid Ghana, Mr John Abaa, made these observations during a community durbar at Feo where drama was used to educate the people on the need to end child marriage.

Teenage pregnancy

According to Mr Abaa, figures from the United Nations Education Fund (UNICEF) showed that 96 girls got pregnant during the 2014/2015 academic year in the Bongo District. He further explained that the figure increased during the 2015/2016 academic year to 111 girls, a situation which he said must not be encouraged.

The officer indicated that ActionAid had directly engaged 56 girls' clubs in the region and had trained 1,350 girls' club patrons and role models to support the clubs in each community.

He stated that ActionAid, in partnership with UNICEF, was embarking on a campaign dubbed ‘end child marriage’ in schools and communities.

The campaign, he noted, was being carried out in 30 communities in the region all aimed at increasing awareness to end child marriage.

"If child marriage persists in our communities, then we have high school dropouts which in turn leads to high illiteracy rate among women and girls; It also results in low self-esteem; low participation in decision making and leadership roles and thereby low development" Mr Abaa further pointed out.

A midwife at the Feo Community-based Health Planning and Service (CHPS) Compound, Madam Freda Alowri, lamented that within the first five months of this year, 34 pregnant girls attending schools in Feo, Awisi, Akolposigu and Ayilbia had put to birth.

She, therefore, advised parents to be more responsible and avoid pushing their girls into early marriage in order not to ruin their future.

The Head of the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, Mr Theodore Azam, observed that the problem of child marriages were from parents who should guide their girls.

He noted that positive parenting demanded that parents took good care of their children to enable them achieve their full potentials.

Commitment

The chief of Feo, Naaba Anyenaba Azaare, wondered how many parents in the area were committed to the elimination of child marriage and pledged his preparedness to fight against child marriage by liaising with the Bongo District Assembly as well as sensitising parents and opinion leaders at all social gatherings to nip it in the bud.

The event, which was attended by parents, opinion leaders, teachers and heads of relevant state institutions was interlaced with a drama performed by pupils of the Feo Junior High School A and B on the need to avoid child marriage .